2024 Best & Brightest MBA: Jennifer Walker-Crawford, Wharton School

Jennifer Walker-Crawford

Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania

“Advocate for transparent conversations about mental health and wellness and an empathetic and motivating colleague.”

Hometown: Warsaw, Indiana

Fun fact about yourself: I am a certified personal trainer!

Undergraduate School and Degree: Kentucky Wesleyan College, B.S. in Accounting

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? PwC, Senior Consultant

Where did you intern during the summer of 2023? S& (PwC Network), Philadelphia/NYC

Where will you be working after graduation? S&, Deals Strategy, Senior Consultant

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School: A sense of belonging makes a huge difference in how people experience life. At Wharton, I have embraced being the “wellness” person. I am the Vice President of Wellness for my cluster, but more importantly I had the opportunity to offer people space and opportunity to prioritize their wellness. Leading workout classes, hosting cookie-baking events (we called procrasti-baking!), and being available to just listen to my colleagues about crucial parts of their lives has been extremely rewarding. Last year, I won the “The Unsung Hero” student life award. This is for a person who goes above and beyond for their classmates requiring no recognition or return. It was pretty cool to know my colleagues felt that way about me. I am also the African American MBA Association CFO, a co-president for Wharton Women in Business, a Student Life Fellow, and an Alumni Fellow. All of these activities allow me to connect with people in a variety of different settings, and I really enjoy having the opportunity to be involved with so many different groups of people.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I am the most proud of my ‘Atomic Habits’ newsletter campaign. Atomic Habits is one of my favorite books, and one I think everyone should read. So, for 2023, I set up a New Year challenge based on the book. This was a series of eight newsletters breaking down the book into digestible actions. About 100 of my classmates signed up for this. Other than my substack stats, I didn’t really know how or if this was having an impact on people. But about three or four months later, one of my colleagues came up to me and thanked me for the newsletters as they helped her maintain fitness goals she set and really kept her accountable. I had no idea, but I was so glad to hear this because this is exactly what I want to do for people. Creating community by sharing thoughts and ideas and showing up for people really makes me feel purpose in life.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? As unconventional as it is, I am the most proud of working in so many different roles. I started at PwC in tax, moved to audit, and then did consulting. There was also a business development role at Visa mixed in there. Sometimes I wonder if I should have just stuck with one thing and stayed there, but I am glad I didn’t. I am proud of having the courage to try something new and explore. I am proud of this also because it set me up to come to business school with a very open mind and perspective about work. There is no single milestone I am the most proud of – I am proud of my curiosity and adaptability.

Why did you choose this business school? Not to be cliche, but I really chose the Wharton School because of the people. There are two highly admired colleagues at my firm who are both Wharton graduates. Their leadership styles, approach to challenges, and most importantly, how they engage with people exhibit the type of leader I want to become.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Emilie Feldman. Professor Feldman is someone you want to listen to when she starts speaking. Having this class right after lunch, you would think I would be dozing off halfway through, but this was the class I was always most excited to attend. Although, I did break out in a small cold sweat the first time she cold-called me. Her presentation style is so engaging and thought-provoking and I truly admire her work. Professor Feldman challenged me to think differently about M&A and challenged us all to question conventional solutions. After every class, I walked away with a new way to think about M&A, value, and business in general.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? (What did it reflect about your business school?) Pub! I love Pub. Thursday night is Friday night at the Wharton School and Pub Club is the one spot where you can see a lot of people in one place and enjoy each other’s company. Every Thursday has a theme sponsored by various clubs. Of course, as a former college athlete, March Madness pub was my favorite pub last year. It is a really fun way to end the week with my classmates.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? If I could do one thing differently, I would engage more with other graduate programs at the university. Towards the end of my time here at Wharton, I took a few classes where I met people from the medical, engineering, and social work schools. It was really enlightening to learn about their perspectives on specific industries. I am someone who is excited about learning new things, and I think when industry experts come together with entrepreneurial people (like us MBA people) a lot of really cool ideas surface.

What is the biggest myth about your school? A big myth about Wharton students is that we don’t care about grades. Every single person here is type A. People care, but they want you to think they don’t care. “Grades don’t matter,” people will say. Sure, in the long-run of life they don’t, but don’t let people fool you, they matter to them right now.

What did you love most about your business school’s town? Go. Birds. I actually had no allegiance to any NFL team until I got to Philadelphia. You almost have to be an Eagles fan to be allowed residency in Philadelphia. Eagles fans are so passionate (to say the least). As a former athlete, I love the buzz and excitement that comes on a big game day… Fly Eagles Fly.

What surprised you the most about business school? I was surprised at how much I grew as a person. I expected this journey to be focused entirely around my career, but I learned so much about myself as a leader, colleague, and person. It is hard to believe how much growth and change can happen in less than two years.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Aliza Berger. I don’t think there is a country she hasn’t been to, a class at Wharton she hasn’t taken, or a topic she doesn’t know about. I admire her resilience and ability to persevere past every “no” or “that won’t work.”

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list?

1. Returning to my firm, PwC, with a new perspective and all of the different and valuable set of skills I have gained here at Wharton.

2. Start a non-profit organization dedicated to accessible mental health & wellness resources – focused on women and children who are victims of violence.

What made Jenn such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2024?

“Jenn has the ability to build meaningful connections and partnerships that make her stand tall amongst her peers. She’s a deeply committed individual and only takes on tasks and roles that she knows she will be able to excel in. She serves in leadership roles within WWIB (Wharton Women in Business), AAMBAA (African American MBA Association), and in the Office of Student Life as a Student Life Fellow. Her engagement with students, faculty, and staff goes well beyond the scope of these. Jenn is deliberate in how she engages with students who come from backgrounds and have perspectives that differ significantly from her own. She’s the first to be vulnerable in any space, allowing others around her to lower their guard. She’s a champion of wellness in both physical and mental capacities. Jenn gives without expecting anything in return, often bringing baked goods to our office to share with others. Jenn has even collaborated with the OSL team and Penn’s Women’s Center to facilitate a workshop for students around effective studying skills while using her baking skills to draw them in. Investing in herself and her well-being has always been a focus for her.”

Rhina El-Amin
Associate Director
MBA Office of Student Life


Questions about this article? Email us or leave a comment below.